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Black-sided Meadow Katydid

Black-sided Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus nigripleurum)

Occurrence

Occasional

Habitat

Wetland edges

Range

They are scattered across NE Ohio. I have found them in Geauga, Summit, Cuyahoga, Medina and Lorain counties to date. Google map: Black-sided Meadow Katydid locations.

Physical description

This small, beautiful katydid is easily recognized by its stunning colors. The black sides are to be expected, given its name. However, it also has black eyes, a red head and thorax, green wings, and green and yellow legs. These katydids are small, too, even for a Conocephalus. Females have a longer ovipositor than either Short-winged or Slender Meadow Katydids, but not quite as long as the Straight-lanced.

Recently-mated female eating the spermatophylax

Song

The song sounds more like a rapid rattle than what I typically describe as a whirring sound, but is so soft that it’s extremely difficult to hear. In addition, the much larger Black-legged Meadow Katydids that are often found with the Black-sideds are significantly louder and can easily drown out these little singers.

 

They sing in the afternoon and at night.

Black-sinded Meadow Katydid - Recording by Lisa Rainsong
00:00 / 00:00

Adult season

Late July into October.

General description and context

Chances are good that you won’t hear them, so watch the cattails and other wetland vegetation. Even damp areas near wetlands are a possibility. One might think that such colorful katydids would be easy to spot, but their assorted hues blend very well with the plants in which they are found. The different colors also seem to break up the profile of the katydids.

Similar species

No other small meadow katydid has this color combination. Black-legged Meadow Katydid are larger, and they do not have black sides.

Field observation

Like the Black-legged Meadow Katydid, Black-sided Meadow Katydids seem to be able to use the invasive, non-native narrow-leaved cattail for ovipositing and for food. It would be interesting to know if the larger Black-legged Meadow Katydids out-compete them in this compromised habitat or if they can continue to coexist.

Black-sided female ovipositing in a cattail stem